The City has received a number of inquiries from homeowners regarding sidewalks that were damaged during the fire debris removal process. The following information provides an update on the City's current efforts to attempt to seek funding for repair of sidewalks damaged during the fire debris removal process, as well as property owners individual options for potentially using their own debris removal insurance proceeds for private repairs.
My sidewalk was damaged during debris removal. Who pays for my new sidewalk?
Per City Council policy 13-32.020, the maintenance of sidewalks immediately in front of a property is the responsibility of the property owner.
Given the potential scale of damage to the sidewalks in the fire-impacted areas due to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the fires and debris removal mission that followed, and the potential resulting safety hazards in the public right-of-way, the City of Santa Rosa is attempting to work with FEMA to fund a comprehensive City-led sidewalk replacement program.
However, it is unclear at this time how much sidewalk replacement will be funded by FEMA and what the approved locations will be. The City’s initial sidewalk replacement project that was submitted more than a year ago was denied for reimbursement by FEMA. The City is currently working on its second appeal of that decision to make the case for reimbursement of this important aspect of recovery.
In the meantime, property owners may elect to move forward with removing and replacing the sidewalk along their property frontage; however, those costs will not be reimbursed by either the City or FEMA.
Can I use my debris removal insurance funds to repair sidewalk damage that occurred during the debris removal process on my lot through the government-operated program?
If the damage was reported/documented by FEMA, USACE or Cal OES as part of the Debris Removal Issue Resolution process, and you received a letter from FEMA/Cal OES acknowledging that Cal OES was unable to resolve this issue, you may use your debris removal insurance proceeds toward repair/replacement work.
Property owners will need to provide the County with documentation that the repairs were associated with damage caused during the debris removal process and receipts for the costs of the repairs. Once this documentation is accepted, the County will only collect reimbursement for the government-operated debris removal program if there are any debris removal funds left unspent in your insurance coverage beyond what was spent on the repair work. We advise you to consult with your insurance provider to be certain of your policy and coverages for debris removal.
Sidewalk damage caused by debris removal that was not previously reported through the Issue Resolution process will be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine if debris removal insurance funds may be used for repair of the issue(s). Property owners should be prepared to provide the County with documentation that the repairs were associated with damage caused during the debris removal process.